[+/-] Today's quote: Protagoras
WASHINGTON, DC—A genie freed from a battered oil lamp by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia granted the conservative jurist a strict constructionist interpretation of his wish for "a hundred billion bucks" Monday. "Sim sim salabim! Your wish is my command!" the genie proclaimed amid flashes of light and purple smoke, immediately filling the Supreme Court building with a massive herd of wild male antelopes. When Justice Scalia complained that the "bucks" had razed the U.S. Supreme Court building, trampling and killing several of his clerks and bringing traffic in the nation's capital to a standstill for hours, the genie said, "Your honor, your wish is a sacred and unalterable document whose interpretation is not subject to the whims of society and changing social context."
A far-reaching inquiry into the careers of three of the US's most senior climate specialists has been launched by Joe Barton, the chairman of the House of Representatives committee on energy and commerce. He has demanded details of all their sources of funding, methods and everything they have ever published.
Mr Barton, a Texan closely associated with the fossil-fuel lobby, has spent his 11 years as chairman opposing every piece of legislation designed to combat climate change.
Republican Sherwood Boehlert, the chairman of the house science committee, objected to what he called a "misguided and illegitimate investigation," and accused the committee of seeking to "erase the line between science and politics."
Faced with the disintegration of the original rationale for war, Bush and his supporters are scrambling to find the elusive moral ground to undergird America’s presence in Iraq. But when you’re on the record invading a country because it was a grave threat and the threat never materializes, you’re left with little but a means-ends argument to justify it. In the eyes of the war’s opponents, Bush and his apologists are mired in an ethical swamp trying to justify the mess they created....
The problem with the Bush apologists' reasoning is that using an infinite time horizon - which they are so fond of - virtually any action, no matter how egregious, can be shown to lead to some positive results. It’s the bastardization of utilitarianism; asserting a causal relationship between a pre-emptive invasion of a sovereign nation and all future good developments in Iraq and the Middle East may swell the hawks' breasts with pride, but it's a dubious and dangerous way to conduct foreign policy.
Which is precisely why we need to adhere so strictly to the rule of law, to basic moral precepts, and to established principles of international relations, something that this administration has failed to do, and that the administration's supporters can dance around but can't justify.
For years, Republicans argued that the Democratic majority in Congress was intruding the federal government into more and more matters best left to the states, the local communities, or the private sector. After 10 years in power, however, the Republicans have seen the Democrats' intrusiveness and raised them. The Republicans have pushed the feds further into the local schools with the No Child Left Behind Act and tried to take marriage law away from the states with the Federal Marriage Amendment. They overruled a series of Florida courts in the Terri Schiavo case, imposing the massive power of the federal government on a tragic family matter.
But it's not just these big-ticket items. Republicans have come down with a serious case of Potomac Fever. They believe that their every passing thought is a proper subject for federal legislation. They hold three-ring-circus hearings on steroids in baseball. They sharply increase the fines for alleged indecency on television. They hold hearings on whether college textbooks are too expensive. They threaten to punish Major League Baseball if the owners allow left-wing billionaire George Soros to be a part owner of the new team in Washington. They vote for a federal investigation of the video game "Grand Theft Auto."
A. Howard Dean
B. John Kerry
C. The conservative CATO institute.
If you guessed C, you win one of my wife's amazing oatmeal chocolate chip cookies :)
What have the rethuglicans wrought?
The federal tax code occupies 2 volumes, each thicker than the Bible. But, the Code of Federal Regulations is much larger; it now occupies over 20 feet of shelf space. And it is growing. In 2004, the federal government printed 78,851 pages of new rules and announcements in the daily Federal Register. At 4 minutes per page that would require 2.5 people reading 8 hours per day for a year, just to keep up with the new rules and pronouncements (to say nothing of actually complying with them).... Since 2000, the regulators' budget has grown an amazing 46 percent, after adjusting for inflation.
Remember that the next time you hear a wingnut accusing liberals of confiscating your hard earned money to finance their big government programs.
The Association of Christian Schools International, which represents more than 800 schools, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday claiming UC admissions officials have refused to certify high school science courses that use textbooks challenging Darwin's theory of evolution. Other rejected courses include "Christianity's Influence in American History."...
"These requirements were established after careful study by faculty and staff to ensure that students who come here are fully prepared with broad knowledge and the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed," [UC spokeswoman Ravi] Poorsina said.
The 10-campus UC system requires applicants to complete a variety of courses, including science, mathematics, history, literature and the arts. Under a policy implemented last year UC admissions authorities have refused to certify high school science courses that use textbooks challenging Darwin's theory of evolution. Other courses rejected by UC officials include "Christianity's Influence in American History," "Christianity and Morality in American Literature" and "Special Providence: American Government."
Take a look at how these rejected books actually deal with science.
SERVICE RECORDS Democrats:
* Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
* David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
* Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
* Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade....
* John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, Purple Hearts....
* Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-53. * Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve,1968-74....
Republicans -- These are the guys sending people to war:
* Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
* Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
* Tom Delay: did not serve....
* Bill Frist: did not serve....
* Karl Rove: did not serve....
* Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.
* George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard; got assigned to Alabama so he could campaign for family friend running for U.S. Senate; failed to show up for required medical exam, disappeared from duty....
Pundits & Preachers
* Sean Hannity: did not serve.
* Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'pilonidal cyst.')
* Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
* Michael Savage: did not serve.
* George Will: did not serve.
* Chris Matthews: did not serve.
* Paul Gigot: did not serve.
* Bill Bennett: did not serve.
* Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
* Bill Kristol: did not serve.
* Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
* Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
* Clarence Thomas: did not serve....
Check out the full list here.
Bob Davidson is a scientist — a doctor, and for 28 years a nephrology professor at the University of Washington medical school.
He's also a devout Christian who believes we're here because of God. It was these twin devotions to science and religion that first attracted him to Seattle's Discovery Institute. That's the think tank that this summer has pushed "intelligent design" — a replacement theory for evolution — all the way to the lips of President Bush and into the national conversation.
Davidson says he was seeking a place where people "believe in a Creator and also believe in science.
"I thought it was refreshing," he says.
Not anymore. He's concluded the institute is an affront to both science and religion.
"When I joined I didn't think they were about bashing evolution. It's pseudo-science, at best ... What they're doing is instigating a conflict between science and religion."...
Davidson began to believe the institute is an "elaborate, clever marketing program" to tear down evolution for religious reasons. He read its writings on intelligent design — the notion that some of life is so complex it must have been designed — and found them lacking in scientific merit.
"I’m not meeting with that goddamned bitch," Bush screamed at aides who suggested he meet with Cindy Sheehan, the war-protesting mother whose son died in Iraq. "She can go to hell as far as I’m concerned!"Bush despises Americans that actually fought in a war:
[Bush] reportedly was so upset over Veterans of Foreign Wars members who wore "bullshit protectors" over their ears during his speech to their annual convention that he told aides to "tell those VFW assholes that I’ll never speak to them again is they can’t keep their members under control."Regarding Bush's low approval ratings:
"Who gives a flying fuck what the polls say," he screamed at a recent strategy meeting. "I’m the President and I’ll do whatever I goddamned please. They don’t know shit."
Families of fallen soldiers and Marines are being told they have the option to have the government-furnished headstones engraved with "Operation Enduring Freedom" or "Operation Iraqi Freedom" at no extra charge, whether they are buried in Arlington or elsewhere. A mock-up shown to many families includes the operation names.
The vast majority of military gravestones from other eras are inscribed with just the basic, required information: name, rank, military branch, date of death and, if applicable, the war and foreign country in which the person served.
Families are supposed to have final approval over what goes on the tombstones. That hasn't always happened.
Nadia and Robert McCaffrey, whose son Patrick was killed in Iraq in June 2004, said "Operation Iraqi Freedom" ended up on his government-supplied headstone in Oceanside, Calif., without family approval.
"I was a little taken aback," Robert McCaffrey said, describing his reaction when he first saw the operation name on Patrick's tombstone. "They certainly didn't ask my wife; they didn't ask me." He said Patrick's widow told him she had not been asked either.
"In one way, I feel it's taking advantage to a small degree," McCaffrey said. "Patrick did not want to be there, that is a definite fact."
The owner of the company that has been making gravestones for Arlington and other national cemeteries for nearly two decades is uncomfortable, too.
"It just seems a little brazen that that's put on stones," said Jeff Martell, owner of Granite Industries of Vermont. "It seems like it might be connected to politics."
Culture of life? More like the culture of self-serving PR.
There's so much BS and baloney thrown around about Venezuela that I may be violating some rule of US journalism by providing some facts. Let's begin with this: 77% of Venezuela's farmland is owned by 3% of the population, the "hacendados."
I met one of these farmlords in Caracas at an anti-Chavez protest march. Oddest demonstration I've ever seen: frosted blondes in high heels clutching designer bags, screeching, "Chavez - dic-ta-dor!" The plantation owner griped about the "socialismo" of Chavez, then jumped into his Jaguar convertible.
That week, Chavez himself handed me a copy of the "socialist" manifesto that so rattled the man in the Jag. It was a new law passed by Venezuela's Congress which gave land to the landless. The Chavez law transferred only fields from the giant haciendas which had been left unused and abandoned.
The conservatives are starting to abandon the Good Ship Iraqipop because they now see that the fantasies they were told about flowers and chocolates are turning to dust. And I have something to add. A very special message to you former neocon butt-swabbers:
Welcome to the reality-based world, kiddos. Welcome to the light of day. Welcome to Planet Earth. What took you so long?
While you guys were swallowing brain-altering Kool-Aid with flavors like "Significant Quantities of Uranium From Africa," "Mission Accomplished," "Turning A Corner" and "Last Throes," we were all sitting here doing everything we could to get you to drink the antidote. While you were busy parroting the Rove talking points with your big shiny bullhorns, we were busy giving you the facts on the ground. Well, I'm glad you finally see that 1+1 does, indeed, equal 2, not 3. Hip Hip hooray.
But before you begin your difficult (impossible?) task of convincing the hardcore knuckledraggers on your team that our job in Iraq is just about as done as it can be, take one more look in your rear-view mirror. Survey the carnage that your cheerleading contributed to. Go ahead and hurl your breakfast all over your keyboard...you'll feel better afterwards.
American Research Group. 8/18-21. MoE 3% (July results)These are lower numbers than Nixon during Watergate. At this point of his second term, Clinton was at 59 percent. Reagan was at 60 percent. Nixon at 39.
Bush approval ratings
Approve 36 (42)
Disapprove 58 (52)
...when the estate tax is completely repealed, along with it will go a little feature called the "stepped-up basis," which basically forgives, at death, the capital gains tax on all profits accumulated during a person's lifetime. As a result of the repeal, every American who leaves appreciated property to children and grandchildren will send their descendants a 15-percent tax bill as well. Nobody mentioned that? Darn, they forgot. We're talking about all kinds of things people routinely inherit - a house, stocks and bonds, vacant land, rental property, family homes and farms, and small businesses... Don't let the tax-cut rhetoric fool you. Estate-tax repeal will replace a tax on the richest 2 percent with a tax on all Americans who have made a profit on their investments and want to pass it on to their children.Yes, yes, go ahead and rub your eyes. But you read this right. By freeing the wealthiest 2% of Americans of their estate tax burden they gouge the rest of us by ending the provision which has allowed average Americans to leave most of their assets to their heirs. Children inheriting a parent's home which had appreciated $500,000 over a lifetime would pay a whopping $75,000 in taxes. That's about two years of tuition and fees at Harvard.
A federal appeals court Friday reversed its earlier ruling that said a Ten Commandments monument must be removed from a city park in Plattsmouth.
The 11-2 ruling from the entire 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling last year from one of the court's three-judge panels.
The court cited a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that said it was constitutionally permissible to display the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Texas Capitol.
In the Texas case, the high court said a 6-foot granite monument on the grounds of the Texas Capitol -- one of 17 historical displays on the 22-acre lot -- was a legitimate tribute to the nation's legal and religious history.
Lawyers for Pope Benedict XVI have asked President Bush to declare the pontiff immune from liability in a lawsuit that accuses him of conspiring to cover up the molestation of three boys by a seminarian in Texas, court records show.
The Vatican's embassy in Washington sent a diplomatic memo to the State Department on May 20 requesting the U.S. government grant the pope immunity because he is a head of state, according to a May 26 motion submitted by the pope's lawyers in U.S. District Court for the Southern Division of Texas in Houston.
Joseph Ratzinger is named as a defendant in the civil lawsuit. Now Benedict XVI, he's accused of conspiring with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to cover up the abuse during the mid-1990s.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Gerry Keener, said Tuesday that the pope is considered a head of state and automatically has diplomatic immunity.
Lawyers for abuse victims say the case is significant because previous attempts to implicate the Vatican, the pope or other church officials in U.S. sex abuse proceedings have failed -- primarily because of immunity claims and the difficulty serving Vatican officials with U.S. lawsuits.
Five former and current residents of the complex, along with housing advocate Hope Fair Housing, are suing the complex and its property manager, saying they used "coercive, harassing and restrictive rules and regulations to impose their 'Christian' beliefs upon current residents."...
Elderly non-Christian residents of the 60-unit complex said they live in a "religiously hostile and intimidating environment," where they are barred from using common rooms for anything non-Christian, including card playing, according to the lawsuit.
Plaintiffs Shen Tong Bea Tu, 87, and Yue Ru Lee, 86, who are non-Christian, say they hid in their apartment bathrooms with the lights off every Wednesday so they wouldn't be forced to attend Bible classes....
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